There are many reasons why you may want to use fabric softener. Adding it to your wash can help keep your clothes touchably soft and comfortable. Fabric softeners can also help to reduce static and wrinkles.
There are a variety of fabric softeners on the market. From products that promise fresh smelling clothes to ones that claim they can make your fabrics last longer. Much like the clothes you choose to wear, the fabric softener you decide to add to your laundry is a personal choice!
Let’s take a look at what makes a great fabric softener, and our pick of a few of the best fabric softeners.
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Things to Consider When Buying Fabric Softener
Picking the first fabric softener you lay eyes on may not be a great idea. Here are a couple of factors to think about before adding a fabric softener to your cart.
Ingredients are an important consideration, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Is it hypoallergenic?
Because you will be washing and/or drying your clothes with fabric softener, and then wearing your clothes, you want high-quality ingredients. The best fabric softeners are typically hypoallergenic. This means that they aren’t likely to cause an allergic reaction. You don’t want your fabric softener making you break out in a rash or become itchy.
Will there be build-up residue?
Great fabric softeners will help keep your clothes soft and wrinkle-free for days, but they should not leave a weird residue. Some leave a waxy coating both on your fabrics and in your washing machine. This can lead to odors, stains, and poor performance of your machine. Choose a fabric softener with as few ingredients as possible and make sure they’re “clean” too.
Alternatively, opt for dryer sheets or balls as these types leave little to no residue.
Is it fire retardant?
You surely don’t want your clothes, towels, or bedding to be more flammable than fabric already is. Unfortunately, the fatty or waxy additions to some fabric softeners can make your clothes less fire retardant. This is mostly true with liquid softeners. Look for fabric softeners that don’t decrease your fabric’s flame resistance and use them sparingly.
Some people love fragrance on their clothes while others prefer them to have no smell at all. Thankfully, there are fabric softeners available for both types of people!
You can choose a fabric softener that removes odors without replacing them with a scent. This will leave your clothes smelling clean but not overly scented. Dryer balls commonly leave no scent at all.
Alternatively, you can choose one with a fragrance for fresh-smelling fabrics long after you wash them. Popular scents include lavender, clean breeze, mountain air, and fresh rain.
You don’t want to spend a fortune on something that is quite literally being washed down the drain! Choose a fabric softener that is affordable and suits your budget. Reusable options, like dryer balls, can be a great money-saving choice!
There are a few ways to measure effectiveness.
How soft will it make your clothes?
The first is how soft will it leave your fabrics? No one likes stiff and uncomfortable clothes or towels. The best fabric softener will leave them smooth and soft while also helping to reduce static and wrinkles. Liquid fabric softener is often better at this than dryer sheets or balls.
Will it impact towel absorbency?
However, when you are thinking about effectiveness make sure its disadvantages don’t outweigh its benefits. You want the fabric softener to leave your items touchably soft without impacting absorbency. Products that achieve softness and static reduction by leaving a layer of build-up or a waxy coating can make your towels less absorbent, which isn’t ideal. Dryer sheets and balls usually won’t do this.
Different Types of Fabric Softener
Liquid Fabric Softener
Liquid fabric softeners are added to your washing machine. They work together with detergent to deodorize and soften fabrics. Liquid fabric softener is commonly the most effective.
However, liquid softeners are also a bit pricey. In addition, they can be the least hypoallergenic and the most likely to result in residue or build-up.
Dryer sheets are as the name implies, sheets that are added to your dryer. During the drying cycle, they help to make your fabrics less stiff, remove wrinkles and can impart a scent.
Dryer sheets are affordable and very convenient. But unfortunately, they can leave a waxy residue on your clothes and your machine. Their scent also does not last as long.
Dryer balls are the most eco-friendly of the bunch. These reusable wool balls are tossed into your dryer with a load of clothes. As they bounce around they help to soften fabrics and remove wrinkles. An investment upfront, balls can be used again and again, often saving you money in the long run.
The disadvantage of dryer balls is that they usually don’t have a scent. Even if you add an essential oil or fragrance to your balls, enough of it won’t transfer to your clothes to keep them smelling like that scent. They also aren’t the best at removing static.
Which Is the Best?
The best fabric softener for you depends on your preferences. Those who prize a fresh scent and supreme softness over everything else may prefer a liquid softener that is added to the wash.
If you want a more convenient and budget-friendly option a dryer sheet is the next best thing for static, feel, and smell. For eco-conscious users, a dryer ball is the way to go. It is hypoallergenic, doesn’t leave a smell, and can be used for months.
You should choose your fabric softener based on your budget, your skin sensitivities, and your laundry must-haves (like softness or anti-static).
The Best Fabric Softeners on Amazon
Downy Infusions Liquid Fabric Conditioner
This Downy Infusions Liquid Fabric Conditioner is safe for all wash machines and is a great companion to your detergent. It not only softens your clothes but leaves them with the calming scent of lavender and vanilla. Because you just add a capful to your wash machine, it is one less thing to worry about when you’re throwing your clothes into the dryer.
- Downy Infusions calm scent Liquid fabric enhancer transforms your laundry with the soothing scent of lavender and vanilla bean
- Breathe Deep and let this relaxing, smooth scent of calm envelop you
- Scent boosting fabric softener freshens and softens for comfy, great-smelling clothes
Gain Dryer Sheets
Gain Dryer Sheets are a popular favorite. They’re affordable and super convenient. Just toss them into the dryer for wrinkle and static-free clothes. Fabrics will also come out with the great smelling gain scent that lasts until your next wash!
- Dryer sheets fight static in the dryer while adding the amazing Gain scent
- Dryer sheets also help reduce wrinkles
- Wash your laundry with matching scents in Gain Laundry Detergent, Liquid Fabric Softener, and Scent Booster Beads then add dryer sheets to the dryer to keep your laundry smelling amazing even after six weeks
Snuggle Plus Super Fresh Liquid Fabric Softener
If your clothes have tough odors, either from physical activity or your job, Snuggle Plus Super Fresh Liquid Fabric Softener may be the product for you. It’s great at tackling strong smells, resulting in clothes that smell fresh and clean. It is also awesome for static control and imparting that classic snuggle softness into your fabrics.
- Odor fighting ingredients
- Designed to block tough odor
- Strongest, long-lasting freshness
Noodle & Boo Baby Laundry Essentials Ultra-Soft Fabric Conditioner
Babies have the most sensitive skin of all. You don’t want to irritate it with scratchy fabrics, but harsh fabric softeners aren’t great either. Thankfully, Noodle & Boo Baby Laundry Essentials Ultra-Soft Fabric Conditioner is hypoallergenic, water-based, and biodegradable. It doesn’t have any harsh chemicals or additives. It simply makes fabrics softer, faster-drying, and longer-lasting with a light scent.
- Designed for Babies: A Pediatrician Tested Hypoallergenic Liquid Fabric Softner Conditioner with Our Signature Crème Douce Scent
- Mild Formula With Naturally-Derived Sustainable Softening Oils, Infuses Cuddly Goodness Into Every Load, While Helping To Preserve The Condition Of Baby’s Dainties
- Developed To Decrease Drying Time, Reduce Wrinkles And Eliminate Static Cling
Downy Ultra Plus Liquid Fabric Conditioner
Downy Ultra Plus Liquid Fabric Conditioner is all around gentle on clothes but tough on odor. It helps to reduce fading, stretching, wrinkles, and fuzz. The pleasant April-fresh scent is long-lasting without being overpowering. The concentrated formula means you get more washes per bottle, which is great!
- Conditions to help prevent stretching, fading, and fuzz
- Leaves long-lasting freshness and softens fabrics
- More concentrated: with 76 loads per bottle (compared to 60 loads in Ultra Downy)
Suavitel Fabric Softener, Morning Sun
Suavitel Fabric Softener in Morning Sun promises an astounding 45 days of freshness thanks to its incredible scent. One bottle will last you quite a few washes and it is compatible with most washing machines. Its conditioning ingredients leave your clothes softer and less staticky.
- Incredible softness. Irresistible fragrance
- 45 Days of Freshness
- Compatible with regular and HE washing machines. HE fabric softener with Morning Sun fragrance
Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Fabric Softener
We love Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Fabric Softener for its clean and natural ingredients. Plant-based, free from parabens, and fragrance from essential oils keep this fabric softener earth and skin-friendly. Available in lavender or honeysuckle, your clothes will both smell and feel amazing.
- Contains softening ingredients from plant sources, cotton extract, and essential oils for garden-fresh fragrance
- 99% naturally derived ingredients, including water content
- HE compatible
The Laundress New York, Fabric Conditioner
The Laundress New York Fabric Conditioner is a luxury treatment for your clothes. It has a beautiful light scent that doesn’t fade. Though it is plant-based and biodegradable, its ingredients are hard-working. It helps to soften clothes, smooth out wrinkles, cut down on drying time, and decrease static.
- SOFTENS: Fluffs and softens everyday laundry when used in conjunction with our detergents
- DEWRINKLES & SPEEDS DRY TIME: Decreases dry time and creasing and makes ironing easier
- THE ULTIMATE CLEAN LAUNDRY SCENT: Our Classic scent creates a luxurious laundry experience with its blend of lily of the valley, jasmine, sweet musk, sandalwood, and citrus.
Dropps Fabric Softener Pods
These are so convenient and easy to just plop into your washing machine! Dropps Fabric Softener Pods are made from mineral-based ingredients so they won’t leave a residue and are safe for your machine. Your clothes benefit by smelling and looking better, as well as being noticeably softer and less wrinkly.
- SOFT & FRESH: Makes fabrics feel soft and fresh without leaving a sticky, artificial chemical residue on clothing. Keeps towels absorbent, safe for flame retardant clothing
- ADD WITH DETERGENT: Add directly to the washer drum in all machines (HE, high efficiency, standard, front loaders, and top loader washing machines.)
- THOUGHTFULLY FORMULATED: Manufactured in the USA with powerful, sustainable, mineral-based ingredients. Never tested on animals. Free from dyes, QUATS, methylisothiazolinone, glutaral, and phthalates
Seventh Generation Fabric Softener
Seventh Generation Fabric Softener is fragrance-free, dye-free, and formulated with ingredients that are animal-cruelty-free; we love to see it! This softener is specially designed for those with sensitivities. You can have softer and fresher clothes with less sticky static all without irritating your skin.
- Seventh Generation Free & Clear Fabric Softener is made for sensitive skin
- Softens and reduces static cling without the use of animal-derived ingredients
- Our gentle formula is free of dyes and fragrances
Bounce Fresh Linen Scented Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets
As the name implies, Bounce Fresh Linen Scented Fabric Softener Dryer Sheets will make your fabrics fluffier, softer, and less clingy. Its fresh linen scent lasts and lasts, even working on tough odors. Adding a few to your dryer sheet equals less time spent on the dry cycle and fewer reasons to break out your clothes iron.
- Familiar scent of fresh linen
- Helps Reduce Wrinkles so you can iron less.
- Controls static cling in fabrics and helps repel lint & hair.
Wool Dryer Balls – Natural Fabric Softener
Wool Dryer Balls are the ultimate natural fabric softener. Eco-friendly and reusable they hold up to numerous dry cycles. They can help you save on electricity by cutting down on your drying time. These durable balls also help to fluff and soften clothes as they bounce around, reducing static and wrinkles in the process. They’re a wonderful chemical and scent-free alternative to traditional fabric softeners.
- SUPERIOR QUALITY WOOL – 100% New Zealand premium wool with no synthetic fillers, rolled into tight, extra-large balls and felted for a natural, long lasting product.
- REUSABLE FABRIC SOFTENER – Replace chemically infused dryer sheets and liquid fabric softeners with an eco-friendly and natural alternative that will last more than a thousand dryer loads.
- SPEED UP DRYING TIME – As the dryer balls tumble around in the dryer, they lift and separate laundry allowing the hot air to circulate better and dry faster.
Benefits of Fabric Softener
Not all fabric softeners are created equal. The best fabric softeners include most of these benefits.
Keeps clothes soft and wrinkle-free
The primary purpose of fabric softeners is to remove wrinkles and help keep your fabrics soft and less-stiff feeling.
Helps reduce friction between fibers
Reducing the friction between fibers is another important benefit of fabric softeners. This will help cut down on static cling, keeping you from accidentally shocking yourself and those around you!
Adds fragrance to the laundry
Adding a pleasant smell to your fabrics can be a nice bonus! Most will keep your clothes smelling fresher much longer than if you use only detergent.
Helps clothes last longer
Some fabric softeners are fabric conditioners, meaning they may help your clothes last longer. They do this by reducing static and helping to protect the fibers.
It Helps clothes retain their shape
Fabric softener can cut down on the stiffness of your clothes. This keeps them from coming out in odd and ill-fitting shapes.
Prevents color fading
As a fabric conditioner, a softener may help to reduce fading and keep your clothes more vibrant.
Makes it easier to iron
Because fabric softener helps to remove wrinkles, your clothes come out flatter and straighter. This means less time spent ironing.
Speeds up drying
Fabric softener can help cut down on drying time by conditioning your clothes and helping with evaporation.
Fabric softener can be a valuable addition to your laundry routine. It can help keep your clothes soft, wrinkle-free, and in better condition. Either as a liquid, dryer sheets, or dryer balls, fabric softener is an easy way to improve the look and feel of your clothes